Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

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Thompson, James. P (Jim) A1
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Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by Thompson, James. P (Jim) A1 »

Martin Schaffernicht wrote: ""I'm 'academically' trying to understand the
relationship between 'system dynamics' -modeling and models- and
learning.... I wonder if someone can tell me of works about ""measuring""
mental model's evolution during a SD modelling effort.""

See ""Measuring Change in Mental Models of Dynamic Systems: An
Exploratory Study"" by James K. Doyle and Michael J. Radzicki of
Worcester Polytechnic Institute and W. Scott Trees of Sienna College.
(1998)http://www.wpi.edu/Academics/Depts/SSPS ... ers/14.pdf

The authors describe their efforts to measure change in mental models
and offer design goals for any method for measuring change in mental
models ""that aims to be rigorous"". I think the gist of this paper was
presented at a later SD annual conference, but I haven't read that
paper.

Doyle also proposed a Research Problem in the Review, ""The cognitive
psychology of systems thinking"" (SDR 13:3, 253-265) that discusses ""the
difficulties and long-term advantages of conducting the described
research.""
Jim Thompson
james.thompson@strath.ac.uk
jim.thompson@cigna.com

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John Voyer
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by John Voyer »

It strikes me that there are two kinds (at least) of causal loop
diagrams.

One kind is a representation of a fairly well-defined ""physical"" or
""quasi-physical"" process. Often these are better represented as
stock-and-flow diagrams. Many of the industrial dynamics diagrams,
strategy dynamics diagrams, or diagrams of predetor/prey systems would
probably fit into this category. I don't think you could call these
cognitive maps.

The second kind is a representation of how some people in an
organization (or many how some individuals) THINK a process or
organizational phenomenon works. One example that I published (with
Janet Gould and David Ford) is ""Systemic Creation of Organizational
Anxiety: An Empirical Study"" (Journal of Applied Behavioral Science,
December, 1997). That would definitely be a cognitive map.

I guess it boils down to whether the causal loop diagram is attempting
to depict something socially constructed. If it is, then the result is
also a cognitive map.

Hope this helps.


John J. Voyer, Ph.D.
Professor of Business Administration
School of Business
University of Southern Maine
96 Falmouth St.
Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104-9300

voyer@usm.maine.edu

James L. Ritchie-Dunham
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by James L. Ritchie-Dunham »

Martin,

We looked at how to characterize the systemic nature of information provided
to decision makers about a social system and how to characterize their
mental models of the system in our research, which is described in my
dissertation. We tested these characterizations in a simulation-based
experiment, available on-line at
http://www.instituteforstrategicclarity ... blications.

As an extension, we are now lab testing how mindfulness influences mental
models of complex systems and field testing how collaborative processes
influence mental models. For more information, see
http://www.instituteforstrategicclarity ... m#Research.


As for the SD literature on mental models, I suggest you read: Richardson,
George P., David F. Andersen, Terrence A. Maxwell, and Thomas R. Stewart.
1994. Foundations of Mental Model Research. Paper read at 1994 International
System Dynamics Conference, at Stirling, Scotland. Combined with the SDR
papers you cited, this paper provides a very nice overview of the SD
perspective on mental models.

Sincerely,

Jim

============================
James L. Ritchie-Dunham, PhD
President, Institute for Strategic Clarity
540 Abbot Hill Road
Wilton, NH 03086-5911
(603) 620-4472 t
(603) 654-5334 f
jimrd@instituteforstrategicclarity.org
www.instituteforstrategicclarity.org

Associate
Psychology Department
Harvard University
www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~jritchie/

Ben Heslop
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by Ben Heslop »

I did an assignment recently that touched some of these issues. In it, I
claim that soft (including cognitive) modelling and hard modelling are
complementary, and if used in concert, are greater than the sum of their
parts. However, the personalities of soft and hard modellers may be
inherently different, and therefore require 2 individuals to work together.

Being a mere PhD student, I claim no credibility, but please feel free to
read and comment.

[ Host's Note: Please email the poster directly to receive a copy
of this paper]

Thanks.
From: ""Ben Heslop"" <u3235557@anu.edu.au>



Alex leus
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by Alex leus »

Hi Ben,
I think you have raised an excellent point. The most effective model , in
my opinion, will include personality dynamics that are strong in the
Emotional, Physical and Mental principles. The emotionally centered
personality dynamic would be great for the soft people issues, the
physically centered dynamic will bring it all together systemically, and the
mental principle will provide the overall vision and logic for the model. I
am not saying one person can not do it., but it would be a much better model
with a team that shares all of these core personality dynamic principles.
For a reference see the book Human Dynamics by: Sandra Seagal and David
Horne.
Cheers,
Alex
From: ""Alex Leus"" <leusa@tds.net>

André Reichel
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by André Reichel »

Hallo Martin,

you mentioned an important difference: between (a) a model of a physical
system and (b) a model of the understanding of that system.

When you model, for example, the transportation infrastructure of a country
and what effects its quality and state have on that countries social,
economic and environmental development, you always have to acknowledge the
existence of type (b) models. One will see great benefits from good road
infrastructure, others will see great harm for the environment and so on.

Now, that leads to the conclusion that value judgements are involved in type
(b) models, certain normative rules which are shaping what to perceive and
what to make of that perception. The interesting thing is, that both types
are subject to learning processes. Type (a) models become more 'realistic'
due to learning, type (b) models become more 'accepted'. This points towards
different validation criteria for the two types of models. As I recall,
Jochen Scholl had a paper on the Oxford-Conference CD, concerning model
robustness vs. model relevance which might be of interest.

Many regards to sunny Chile / Viele Grüße ins sonnige Chile

____________________________________

André Reichel

Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Volkswirtschaftslehre und Recht
Abteilung für Umwelt- und Innovationsforschung
Keplerstrasse 17
70174 Stuttgart

Telefon: +49 (0)711 / 121-3550
Telefax: +49 (0)711 / 121-2800
E-Mail:
reichel@ivr.uni-stuttgart.de
Internet: www.ivr.uni-stuttgart.de/umwelt

Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A
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Mental models, cognitive maps and causal diagrams

Post by Zagonel-Santos, Aldo A »

I claim that soft (including cognitive) modeling and hard modeling are
complementary, and if used in concert, are greater than the sum of their
parts. However, the personalities of soft and hard modelers may be
inherently different, and therefore require 2 individuals to work
together.""

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. In my dissertation I
explicitly distinguished the aspects of SD model conceptualization that
represent reality vs. those that construct social reality. I labeled
them micro-world vs. boundary-object modeling. I went further and
developed a procedure to map interventions and measure the extent that
each approach is used. One of the dimensions that my framework captures
is the role of the modeler. As proposed by Richardson and Andersen (SDR
1995) ""Teamwork in group model building,"" two modelers working the roles
of facilitator and reflector will achieve better results than one
modeler trying to do both. Other dimensions of the framework include
nature/context of the problem, purpose of the modeling effort, type of
client/audience, form of synthesis in problem definition, intrusiveness
of the conceptualization framework, objectiveness of the information
available, and definition of model boundary. In my research, I
distinguished competing goals and alternative approaches associated with
each perspective along these eight dimensions. In the future I would
like to expand the framework to include model formulation, use and
evaluation.

For more information, see the proceedings of ISDC 2004 (Oxford),
""Developing an interpretive dialogue for Group Model Building,"" or
contact me for a copy of the paper.


Aldo Zagonel
Sandia National Laboratories
Critical Infrastructure Modeling & Simulation Department P.O. Box 5800 -
MS 0749 Albuquerque, NM 87185-0749 - USA
Tel: (505) 284-6773
Fax: (505) 844-3296
E-mail:
aazagon@sandia.gov

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